Frequently Asked Questions

NOTICE: While the Austin Map Project is still active, and continues to accept new photos, the site is no longer under active development. I have preserved the FAQ below as it was last updated on February 2, 2006, with modification only to my contact information. If you want to see what new work I’m doing now on mapping and place, check out my New Atlantis essay “GPS and the End of the Road”.
–Ari N. Schulman, August 8, 2011

What is this site?
What is its purpose?
How do I use the map?
What are those pluses and arrows?
The pictures don't look like they're exactly where they are represented on the map.
Can I contribute pictures?
Will all pictures be accepted?
What is the goal/purpose of the site?
May I use pictures from this site in other publications, presentations, etc.?
What features are still to come?
Why can't I find a particular street on the map?
Is this for profit?
Can I make a monetary contribution?
Why all of the "eventually's"?
Who made this site?
How can I contact you?
What is the meaning of life?

What is this site?
This is a project under construction to photographically document Austin. This will be not just an interactive map of Austin, or a repository of pictures of the city, but a fusion of the two that helps capture and examine the essence of the city. More specifically, the concept is to have an interactive map that shows you exactly where each picture was taken, and what direction it was pointing, thus creating a sense of place for the pictures and the community that took them. The project is interested not just in a large variety of places, but also a breadth of times. The idea is to capture both as many places and as many times—as many place-times—as possible. Any one location can have dozens of pictures of different times.

What is its purpose?
The site's purpose is twofold:
 · Artistic: The site aims to highlight the beauty—natural, created, or otherwise—of Austin.
 · Archival: The site aims to document as many locations in as many times as possible, with importance still placed on picture quality but not necessarily on beauty.

How do I use the map?
The map on the right side of every page has functions that are simple and intuitive to use:
 · Click on the + or arrow to load the corresponding picture in this frame
 · Click elsewhere on the map to zoom in
 · Click and drag the map to move it around.
 · Use the navigation bar at the top left to move manually between levels and scroll the map

What are those pluses and arrows?
Each picture on the database is represented by a + or an arrow on the map to represent where in Austin it was taken.  On all but the largest zoom level, the pictures are represented by a + ; on the closest zoom, the + resolves into an arrow, which indicates the direction the picture was taken (the direction the camera was pointing).  You can click anywhere on, or generally around, the + or arrow, to view the picture in this frame.

The pictures don't look like they're exactly where they are represented on the map.
The + symbols are placed at exactly where the artist was standing when they took a picture.  Thus, an image could be of downtown Austin, but taken from Mount Bonnell, and its symbol on the map would be quite far away from downtown.  For arrows, the tail of the arrow is intended to represent where the artist was standing, and the direction of the arrow indicates the direction the camera was pointing.  Some pictures, of course, will not be in exactly the correct area, especially those in the middle of large parks; these, and the directions of arrows, are also only as accurate as the artist can remember.

Can I contribute pictures?
Yes. For the time being, you must be a registered user.

Will all pictures be accepted?
No, but go ahead and submit as much as you want.  So far the only pictures not to be accepted have been vandalism. The idea of the site is to document the beauty of Austin.  So, personal pictures and pictures which are of poor quality will not be accepted.  However, the majority of pictures will be accepted.  Anything of beauty or relevance to Austinites besides yourself is what the project is looking for.  You won't be penalized for submitting pictures that aren't accepted, and as the site is still in its infancy, virtually all pictures will be. The first pictures you submit will be screened by an administrator, but after you have submitted three pictures which have been added, you will be able to add pictures with no delay.

What is the goal/purpose of the site?
Read the first entry in the FAQ.  What this purpose amounts to in tangible terms of what the pictures should merit artistically isn't quite clear at this point.  Certainly any picture of Austin with artistic and evocative value is very much of interest.  However, the site also aims to do modern mapmaking--in other words, just to document as many places in Austin as possible, however beautiful or not they may be.  So, a picture just of your house or the street in front of it is worth contribution, as long as the image is clear.  Once coverage becomes more complete, a page listing locations in Austin that are the most remote or undocumented will be added to encourage people to submit or go out and take photographs of that area.  Any pictures from around Austin that don't particularly highlight a specific location work, too, such as images of a sunset or nature-based photos.  In essence, anything goes at this point, and it will be decided in the future mostly what the site is not about.  In the meantime, contribute anything you find interesting.

May I use pictures from this site in other publications, presentations, etc.?
No, not unless they're your own.  Every artist maintains the copy rights to each of their pictures.  The Austin Map Project is not authorized to allow duplication for commercial purposes.  You must ask the artist directly if you wish to duplicate their work in any way.  You may save pictures to your computer, forward them to friends and family, etc., but you must ask permission to duplicate them for purposes other than these.

What features are still to come?
There is an extensive list of new features that remain to be implemented, of varying degrees of significance. All the features that were formerly mentioned in response to this question on the FAQ have been added (categories, commenting, picture sets, superlatives, etc). Please read the updates thread in the forums to keep up with the site's latest developments.

Why can't I find a particular street on the map?
Unfortunately, these maps are rather old.  They're from the University of Texas's online map library, and they're maps made by the Texas Department of Transportation in 1990.  So, any streets added since then will not appear on the map.  Given Austin's rapid development, this does leave large gaps on the map.  Something will be done about this eventually.  I might be utilizing Google Maps' database at some point, or simply adding in special pages for areas which have undergone changes since these maps were made.  I decided to use these maps, however, because of the very good resolution, and the comparably more aesthetic design than, say, MapQuest or Yahoo maps.  The idea is to show Austin's beauty, after all, and this map includes creeks, low-water crossings, and parks, of which I hope there to be many pictures eventually.

Is this for profit?
Not at the moment. If the site becomes for profit in the future, it will involve selling prints of pictures, and will be entirely optional (and artists will be opted out unless they specifically set themselves up for this). Artists will maintain the copy rights to their pictures and will retain a portion of the profit from their pictures. Details of this remain to be resolved legally and will not be explored until the site reaches a more complete state. Rest assured, no profit will be made from your pictures unless you specifically request it, maintain copy rights, and share in the profit, and this is quite a while from being implemented in the meantime.

Can I make a monetary contribution?
I managed to get an amazing deal on a hosting service, but that won't last forever.  Eventually I'll post a link to allow people to make a direct donation to the hosting company which will be deducted from the hosting bill.

Why all of the "eventually's"?
Well, the site is nonprofit, and I am but one lone college student with not so much free time. I have very, very, long list of things that need to be done to the site, so I have to prioritize. Saying "eventually" about some feature or improvement or fix just means it's on the list.

Who made this site?
My name is Ari Schulman.  My personal website is the root directory of the original location of this site here.

How can I contact you?
If you have any questions, please register with the site and post them on the forums. Alternately, you can send me an email here.

What is the meaning of life?
I'm not sure, but it's definitely not "42."



The FAQ was last updated on Monday, August 8, 2011; 8:10 PM.